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A - Z of Compensation and Benefits

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Compensation is a systematic approach to providing monetary value to employees in exchange for work performed. Compensation may achieve several purposes assisting in recruitment, job performance, and job satisfaction. How is compensation used? Compensation is a tool used by management for a variety of purposes to further the existence of the company. Compensation may be adjusted according the business needs, goals, and available resources.

Compensation may be used to:

  • Recruit and retain qualified employees.
  • Increase or maintain morale/satisfaction.
  • Reward and encourage peak performance.
  • Achieve internal and external equity.
  • Reduce turnover and encourage company loyalty.
  • Modify (through negotiations) practices of unions.

Recruitment and retention of qualified employees is a common goal shared by many employers. To some extent, the availability and cost of qualified applicants for open positions is determined by market factors beyond the control of the employer. While an employer may set compensation levels for new hires and advertise those salary ranges, it does so in the context of other employers seeking to hire from the same applicant pool.

Morale and job satisfaction are affected by compensation. Often there is a balance (equity) that must be reached between the monetary values, the employer is willing to pay and the sentiments of worth felt be the employee. In an attempt to save money, employers may opt to freeze salaries or salary levels at the expense of satisfaction and morale. Conversely, an employer wishing to reduce employee turnover may seek to increase salaries and salary levels.

Compensation may also be used as a reward for exceptional job performance. Examples of such plans include: bonuses, commissions, stock, profit sharing, gain sharing.

 What are the components of a compensation system?

Compensation will be perceived by employees as fair if based on systematic components. Various compensation systems have developed to determine the value of positions. These systems utilize many similar components including job descriptions, salary ranges/structures, and written procedures.

The components of a compensation system include:

  • Job Descriptions A critical component of both compensation and selection systems, job descriptions define in writing the responsibilities, requirements, functions, duties, location, environment, conditions, and other aspects of jobs. Descriptions may be developed for jobs individually or for entire job families.
  • Job Analysis The process of analyzing jobs from which job descriptions are developed. Job analysis techniques include the use of interviews, questionnaires, and observation.
  • Job Evaluation A system for comparing jobs for the purpose of determining appropriate compensation levels for individual jobs or job elements. There are four main techniques: Ranking, Classification, Factor Comparison, and Point Method.
  • Pay Structures Useful for standardizing compensation practices. Most pay structures include several grades with each grade containing a minimum salary/wage and either step increments or grade range. Step increments are common with union positions where the pay for each job is pre-determined through collective bargaining.
  • Salary Surveys Collections of salary and market data. May include average salaries, inflation indicators, cost of living indicators, salary budget averages. Companies may purchase results of surveys conducted by survey vendors or may conduct their own salary surveys. When purchasing the results of salary surveys conducted by other vendors, note that surveys may be conducted within a specific industry or across industries as well as within one geographical region or across different geographical regions. Know which industry or geographic location the salary results pertain to before comparing the results to your company.
  • Policies and Regulations

What are different types of compensation?

Different types of compensation include:

  • Base Pay
  • Commissions
  • Overtime Pay
  • Bonuses, Profit Sharing, Merit Pay
  • Stock Options
  • Travel/Meal/Housing Allowance
  • Benefits including: dental, insurance, medical, vacation, leaves, retirement, taxes...

 

Compensation Tips: Everything is Negotiable

 It's all negotiable. Every new job -- every performance review, in fact -- is an opportunity to negotiate base salary, various kinds of bonuses, benefits, stock options, and other incentives that add to job satisfaction and provide financial security. Taking control of your job search and conducting a smart search that takes into account more than just financial considerations can also lead to that elusive condition called happiness. Are you prepared to negotiate for happiness?

The negotiation process is an opportunity to define, communicate, and achieve what you want. But to get the right job that pays what you deserve, you'll need to do your homework. The first step in the negotiation clinic is to understand the negotiation basics.

Negotiation requires gathering information, planning your approach, considering different alternatives and viewpoints, communicating clearly and specifically, and making decisions to reach your goal. “The author Maryanne L. Wegerbauer” In her book, describes how each party in a negotiation can fulfill specific needs and wants of the other party, a concept called "relative power."  According to Wegerbauer, understanding your strengths and resources; being able to respond to the needs of the other party; and knowing your competition enable you to assess your bargaining position more accurately.


 

Learn the power factors

What is your power over the other side of the table? Relative power, Wegerbauer says, is a function of the following.

Business climate factors
  • Overall state of the economy and the industry in which you compete
  • Overall unemployment rate and the general employment picture
  • Demand for industry- and profession-specific knowledge and skills
Company factors
  • Profitability
  • Position in the business cycle (startup, growing, stable, turnaround)
Hiring manager factors
  • Urgency of the company's need to fill the position
  • Decision-making authority
  • Staffing budget
Applicant factors
  • Other opportunities
  • Technical expertise, unique knowledge/skill set
  • Resources (financial depth, networks, etc.)
  • Level of competition/availability of other candidates
  • Career risk

Plan and communicate

A negotiation is composed of two major steps: planning (research and strategy) and communication (information exchange and agreement.  In the planning step, get as much information as you can up front and, using both the company's written and unwritten signals, map your skills against what the company values.

 Give it time

 Timing is also important. Remember that the best time to negotiate is after a serious job offer has been made and before you have accepted it. Once you are clear about the initial offer, you can express interest and even enthusiasm, but ask for more time to consider the job offer. Wegerbauer suggests that this request is made "in light of the importance of the decision." Sometimes you can split up the negotiating session into two meetings: one to firm up the job design and responsibilities and the second to go over compensation and benefits. The key message here is not to make an impulsive decision. If they really want you, there's time.

Consider the alternatives

You should be prepared with a rationale for everything to strengthen your position. Counteroffers are an expected part of many negotiations, so be sure to remain flexible. Keep in mind that different companies can give negotiations more or less latitude. Smaller companies may be more flexible than large, bureaucratic companies. Unionized companies usually have very little room for individual negotiations.

Negotiate for a win-win

Remember that the negotiation is not about strong-arm tactics or win/lose. It is a two-way process where you and your prospective employer are each trying to get something you need. In a negotiation, you're both designing the terms of a transaction so that each of you will receive the maximum benefit from the final agreement.

 Above Source: By Linda Jenkins, Salary.com

Compensation trends in India  

India’s transition to a market driven economy began in 1991 with the introduction of liberalization (pro-market economic reforms). Prior to 1991, the Government was (and still is) the biggest employer and job creator, accounting for over 85% of post-matriculation (High School) jobs. Pay was largely determined by high-level agreements between employee unions and the Government and was largely guaranteed in nature. A similar situation was prevalent in the private sector, where Government pay scales were often used as a benchmark in fixing and revising pay. Compensation packages were low on cash and high on fringe benefits such as accommodation, cars, and subsidized loans. Variable pay was largely restricted to top and senior management in few private sector enterprises. Grading systems were largely industry-wide and salary progression was purely determined by length of service.

Current trends

Productivity gains (4% in 2003-04), fast growth in real wages (40% over the last 5 years), a booming but extremely competitive economy (GDP growth of 6%), simplification of tax rules and emergence of knowledge-based industries such as Information Technology & Outsourcing Services, Healthcare etc are key factors that have influenced compensation in India post liberalization. Compensation is now characterized by a Total Cost of Employment approach, a rapid movement to flexible benefits, and increasing levels of variable pay (variable pay now forms about 7% - 35% of fixed pay). Grade structures have become organization specific and salary progression is driven by market forces and individual performance. Average salary increases over 2003-04 ranged from 5% - 20%. The average increase was 11%. While most organizations benchmark compensation nationally within a select group of competitors, a few organizations are beginning to benchmark themselves internationally at senior management levels. India has the fastest compensation increase rate in the Asian region at 11.7% and it also has the highest labour turnover in the region.

Different compensation plans - how do they affect your financial results

With the introduction of FRS 102 Share-based Payment, companies are required to recognize the expenses of employee equity compensation schemes with effect from 1 January 2005. This article highlights the major implications to the financial results of the three most common equity compensation schemes, namely share option scheme, performance shares scheme, and Share Appreciation Rights (SAR, also known as phantom share scheme).

Read 41117 times Last modified on Tuesday, 26 January 2016 12:21
Chandramauli Yodha

A Dynamic Business Development Professional with over ten years of experience in business development, sales and marketing, customer relations and library management.

www.witsnskills.com

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